How to Add a Backup Camera to Your Car

A backup camera can make your car safer and prevent accidents.

Car screen showing car going in reverseShutterstock

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Backup cameras, also known as rear view cameras, can reduce the risk of a costly accident when backing up a car or truck. A camera display showing a live video of what’s behind you minimizes the risk of bashing your vehicle into an unseen obstacle.

This safety feature has been mandatory on new vehicles sold since May 1, 2018.

But what if your car is older and doesn’t have a backup camera? Is it possible to have an aftermarket camera fitted and, if so, what are the costs? Let’s look at options in the backup camera market and how to add a backup camera to your car.

How Much Does an Aftermarket Backup Camera Cost?

The answer largely depends on what type of camera you want, and whether your vehicle has an infotainment screen that will work with a backup camera.

A wired backup camera integrated into a vehicle’s infotainment screen or, in some cases, one that displays the camera’s image in the rearview mirror, are slightly more expensive – roughly $200 to $500.

Another option is a hard-wired or wireless backup camera with a monitor. The latter is less expensive and a smart choice for older vehicles that lack an infotainment screen. These can cost as little as $100-$200, depending on the model.

What Does Installation Entail?

The simplest choice for the automotive DIY’er is a wireless camera, since there is no need to drill holes and splice wires. A wired camera connection involves more labor, may include creating a hole or some form of flush mounting point for the camera, and running wires through the vehicle.

If you’d prefer someone else to to add a backup camera to your car, professional installation is relatively affordable. Nationwide chains such as Best Buy and Wal-Mart offer backup camera installation for approximately $130 to $140, excluding the cost of the camera itself.

What Features Should Someone Look for in a Backup Camera?

A wireless camera is less expensive and easier to install, though the image quality is often not as sharp as what you get with a hardwired system. Another choice is whether the image plays on the infotainment screen, in your rearview mirror, or on a standalone screen.

A backup camera with reverse parking guidelines, which shows the approximate distance to objects behind you, is also convenient.

Knowing what makes you most comfortable when behind the wheel can help save money, not to mention potentially add to a vehicle’s future resale value. A rearview camera is a good selling point due to its everyday usefulness.

What Products are Well-Reviewed?

Wireless systems, such as the $120 Auto-Vox CS-2, might include a handy mount for the rear license plate that has the camera built into it. If you don’t want to use anything more complex than a screwdriver and Bluetooth connection, this is the kind of quick-and-easy system you’ll prefer.

If you’re after something more affordable, the around $25 HD eRapta ERT01 boasts a 4.5 star rating on Amazon, though it needs to be physically wired into a power source.

For around $45, the Amtifo A1 has its display in a clip-on device that mounts over the rearview mirror, making it a convenient choice as well. This one, like the eRapta, has a physical connection, though designed for the DIY owner. Like the other options, gauge your DIY skills and engage professionals when needed.

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Nick Kurczewski
Nick Kurczewski is a freelance automotive journalist based in the New York metro area. With approximately 20 years of experience, he has covered all aspects of the car world, from the pit lane at the 24 Hours of Le Mans, to car shows around the world, and a Zamboni lesson in Lower Manhattan. He’s also adept at providing helpful car advice and steering people towards the ideal car, truck, or SUV for their driving needs.